MLS Week 20: A Weekend Look Ahead

MLS Week 20: A Weekend Look Ahead

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MLS Week 20: A Weekend Look Ahead

Potential playoff previews and intriguing interconference showdowns headline the Week 20 weekend slate in Major League Soccer.

While there aren’t a ton of marquee matches on Saturday and Sunday, there are some intriguing clashes that could start to shape the complexion of the playoff races in both conferences.

On the other end of the postseason races are a handful of teams in search of breaking poor form and making a surge up the standings, some of whom play each other in Week 20.

Below is a look at the 11-game slate across MLS this weekend.

Game of the Week

Portland Timbers at LAFC (Sunday, 6 p.m. ET, ESPN) 

A potential Western Conference playoff preview takes place at Banc of California Stadium on Sunday night.

The league clash between LAFC and the Portland Timbers is also one of two consecutive games the sides play against each other, as they square off in the U.S. Open Cup on Wednesday in the same stadium.

Second-place LAFC can’t stop scoring at the moment, with Adama Diomande lighting opposing nets on fire during the club’s five-game unbeaten run.

The Timbers enter with the longest unbeaten run in MLS, as they’ve gotten a point out of their last 11 games. Although he hasn’t been as prolific as Diomande, keep an eye on Samuel Armenteros in the green and gold, as he’s coming off a two-goal performance in Week 19 against San Jose.

Other Games To Watch

Sporting Kansas City at New York Red Bulls (Saturday. 7 p.m. ET, ESPN+) 

Sporting Kansas City won their last two meetings with the New York Red Bulls by a 2-0 score, and Peter Vermes’ side is hoping a similar result pops up Saturday.

Sporting KC fell a spot in the Western Conference due to its recent stumble and LAFC’s surge. The Red Bulls are also in need of a victory after falling in the final minutes to New York City FC in Week 19.

The game will be won in midfield, as Tyler Adams takes on Ilie Sanchez in one of the best individual battles of the weekend.

Columbus Crew at New York City FC (Saturday, 7 p.m. ET, ESPN+) 

The third game in seven days for New York City FC is a grueling test against a fellow contender in the Eastern Conference.

From the Columbus Crew perspective, Saturday’s trip to Yankee Stadium is a perfect time to get NYCFC while its weak and steal three points in the tight East playoff race.

The Crew need a victory more than anyone in MLS, as they have three losses in their last four games, all of which they’ve been shutout in.

If the Crew are able to reverse their poor defensive form, as they’ve let in eight goals in their last three losses, they’ll have a chance versus a David Villa-less NYCFC.

Vancouver Whitecaps at D.C. United (Saturday, 8 p.m. ET, ESPN+, TSN) 

In any other week, a meeting between Vancouver and D.C. wouldn’t be intriguing to anyone.

However, Saturday’s matchup presents plenty of storylines, as Audi Field opens in the nation’s capital and Wayne Rooney could make his D.C. United debut.

The game is more about the pride of displaying a new stadium, but a win for the Black and Red would be a nice spark for their second-half home stretch in which they have an opportunity to dig themselves out of the Eastern Conference basement.

The Rest

San Jose Earthquakes at Montreal Impact (Saturday, 7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN+, TVA Sport) 

The Quakes haven’t beaten anyone other than Minnesota and that likely won’t change in Quebec on Saturday.

The Impact need to pick up as many points as possible to hold on to sixth place in the Eastern Conference, with the Fire and Union right on their heels.

In their last three home games, the Impact have outscored opponents 7-1, and they’ll need the same defensive fortitude to keep out an Earthquakes attack that’s scored in their last six games.

However, the Quakes conceded at least two goals in five of their last six games.

LA Galaxy at New England Revolution (Saturday. 7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN+) 

Matches between the LA Galaxy and New England Revolution have gotten a bit wild in the past.

In each of the last five regular-season meetings between two of the oldest franchises in MLS, at least three goals have been scored.

A year ago at Gillette Stadium, the Revs won 4-3, while the Galaxy took a 4-2 result in 2016.

With Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Ola Kamara, Giovani Dos Santos, Teal Bunbury, Diego Fagundez and Kelyn Rowe occupying the final third, we could see similar fireworks.

Chicago Fire at FC Dallas (Saturday, 8 p.m. ET, ESPN+) 

The Fire come into the Brimstone Cup in ashes after losing in the final seconds to the Union on Wednesday.

The exhausted Fire don’t have much time to recover, as the FC Dallas attack is hungry to keep the team atop the Western Conference with LAFC making a surge for its position.

A good sign for FC Dallas is the last four games between it and the Fire were won by the home side, although three of those four wins went to Chicago.

Real Salt Lake at Minnesota United (Saturday, 8 p.m. ET, ESPN+)

Real Salt Lake continues to play well and stay above the red line in the Western Conference, but it hasn’t made the leap into the elite of the conference yet.

A road win over struggling Minnesota United could help bridge the gap to the top three teams in the West, and it would tie its longest winning streak of the season.

Outside of the home win over Toronto FC, the Loons haven’t looked great in their last five games, but there is a chance their high-powered attack could do some damage.

Toronto FC at Orlando City (Saturday, 8 p.m. ET, ESPN+, TSN) 

The disappointment derby takes place at Orlando City Stadium, with Orlando City and Toronto FC languishing near the bottom of the Eastern Conference.

TFC is winless in five games and the Lions are on a nine-game losing streak.

Something has to give in Saturday’s clash, right?

If it does, expect the game to be attack-driven, as the Reds let in 13 goals in their last five games and the Lions have conceded at least two goals in each game of their losing run.

Houston Dynamo at Colorado Rapids (Saturday, 9 p.m. ET, ESPN+) 

After showing promise for three games, the Colorado Rapids went back to dreck in the last two games, keeping them in the fight with San Jose for worst in the West.

The Dynamo knocked off the Rapids in their first meeting of the season June 9 and more of the same is expected, as Alberth Elis and Co. feast on the Rapids defense.

If the Rapids are to break out of their bad form, it would be because of Dominique Badji, who’s been a rare bright spot in an underwhelming season.

Seattle Sounders at Atlanta United (Sunday, 2 p.m. ET, Fox) 

Seattle invented crowds of over 50,000 at an MLS game.

Atlanta perfected it.

In any other season, the clash between the Sounders and Five Stripes in front of a massive crowd at Mercedes-Benz Stadium would be a must-watch contest, but the only reason to view Sunday’s game is to keep your soccer fix after the World Cup final.

Atlanta is a much better team than Seattle at the moment, and even if Clint Dempsey or Will Bruin strikes for a moment of brilliance, they’ll be outdone by Golden Boot leader Josef Martinez, Miguel Almiron or Ezequiel Barco.

 

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